One Morning — and Nine Newborns!
In early 2014, an emergency call from the maternity ward at St. Elisabeth hospital in Arusha in the northern part of Tanzania reached Germany. The situation at the ward was alarming: Mothers who had given birth without complications had to leave the hospital three hours after delivery, three newborns had to share one incubator, and the corridor was turned into a delivery room when too many women were in labor at the same time. Financial support which was expected from the department of health had failed to appear. The hospital had no money to buy urgently needed medical equipment such as a suction machine, an incubator or an ultra-sound machine.
Consequently, the doctors in Arusha decided to call one of Europe´s largest medical aid associations for support: action medeor. Headquartered in Germany, they have worked in health care aid since 1964, particularly in developing countries. Amongst others, the organization handles projects improving prevention, diagnostics and therapy in Africa in co-operation with experienced local partners. FedEx Germany has supported action medeor since 2012. After the emergency call from Tanzania, both action medeor and FedEx decided unhesitatingly to jointly support St. Elisabeth´s maternity ward.
The reason for the overflow at the maternity ward is simple, explains Kathrin Rolka, project coordinator at action medeor: “The hospital became a so-called designated hospital in 2012. This means that they have to offer services free of charge for pre- and postnatal care, birth assistance and health care services for children younger than five years. As a result, the numbers of births at St. Elisabeth has multiplied within very short time.”
In August 2014, Kathrin visited the maternity ward and could hardly believe how busy it was: “When I asked the nurse in charge how many babies were born that morning, she replied seven – but was immediately corrected by a nurse in a green aseptic uniform holding twins in her arms saying: “Look, sister, we already have nine!”
While Kathrin was on site, she also witnessed the delivery of urgent medical equipment that had been purchased with FedEx support. The hospital management, nurses and physicians checked the delivery and immediately distributed the medical equipment to the ward and surgery room. Only a few hours later, all the equipment was being used. “Phew, that was a long day! Although I was completely exhausted, I felt really grateful to be part of this project with such highly motivated and committed people”, Kathrin remembers.
Now, a few months later, she reports that the healthcare services provided at the maternity ward have improved tremendously thanks to the new medical equipment. However, there is still work to be done: the number of births is still increasing at St. Elisabeth. One morning with nine births is not exceptional anymore.